My Nan’s potato soup has always been on my list of comfort foods. It’s never the same twice, but it always tastes amazing. It’s one of the few things that I like the taste of pepper in.
When we decided to have friends over for New Year’s Day, I wanted to keep the food simple. The excesses of the previous few weeks were catching up to all of us, and the last thing we wanted was another heavy calorie-laden meal.
Call me crazy, but I was also pretty nervous to be making a meal for a cook book author. She’s like a second mother to me these days, but this was my first time really cooking for her. If you care about the food you make for other people, I don’t know who wouldn’t be nervous!
I’m happy to say our little party, and the soup, went off without a hitch. This warm and hearty soup was exactly what we all needed on a cold day. Along with the wonderful conversation and nibbles like My Mamma’s Salsa, and pigs in a blanket, we were one happy bunch, and it really started the new year off right.
The Players:: Potatoes, an Onion, Celery, Bacon, Green (Spring) Onion, Chicken Broth, Salt, Pepper, Nature’s Seasoning (or garlic and celery salt instead), Milk and Cornstarch (pictured later)
Start by chopping the ingredients that will cook first – potato, onion, and celery. There’s no need to peel the potatoes, though you can if you want to. On New Year’s Day, we made this soup using red potatoes, but for this attempt I used golden ones.
Per Nanny’s instructions, use one medium sized potato per adult you’re feeding. Because we wanted leftovers, I used 4 medium sized potatoes to double the batch.
There doesn’t seem to be too much of a taste difference, but I think I’ll probably use red potatoes from now on, just because they’re prettier in the finished product. (Call me a silly girl if you want to, I like asthetics!)
No need to dice things extra small, though I did keep the celery tinier because I didn’t want it’s crunchy texture to compete with the potatoes, onion, and bacon.
As you go along, just throw everything into your soup pot.
When you’ve got all three into the stock pot, sprinkle the whole thing with kosher salt. I’d say it was probably 1 tablespoon.
Then fill the pot with water so that it covers all the vegetables, with between 1/2 and 1 inch of water above. You can do more if you like a lot of broth. I then added 4 chicken boullion cubes. Instead of water and boullion, you can use the ready made boxed or canned chicken stock, or you can use vegetable stock if you’re going for vegetarian soup.
Now that everything’s on the stove, go ahead and add a little heat. This is all down to taste, but I’ll gather a guess that I added 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 1/2 tablespoon of Nature’s Seasonings, and 1 teaspoon of white pepper.
Please ignore my messy kitchen. Please?
Look! Here’s a pretty picture of it all bubbling away, just before I stirred the pepper in properly.
Allow this all to cook on high for as long as it takes the potatoes to get soft enough that they break apart when pierced with a fork, just like when you’re making mashed potatoes.
While that’s bubbling away, grab the bacon. (no, that’s not a euphamism!) Use as much or as little as you want here, but for goodness sake, don’t subsitute bacon bits! Use the real stuff! I used 4 strips of bacon, and I used kitchen shears to cut it into smaller pieces, which is much easier than trying to chop bacon with any of the crappy knives I own. One of these days I’ll get some good knives.. and a kitchen that has drawers on rollers.. and a double oven..***snaps back to reality*** where were we? Oh right.
Fry it up until it’s a little crispy. Don’t do what I did and char it until it’s in cinders.
When cooked, remove from the pan, and drain on a paper towel until the rest of your soup is ready.
The potatoes should be just about done after 30-35 minutes, though you can leave this to cook for up to an hour if you want. Everything will just get more tender and flavorful.
You’ll need a collander, and a second stock pot for this next part. Set up your empty pot with the collander over it. Pour everything from one pot to the other. All the lovely veg should stay in the collander, and the stock should now be in previously empty pot.
Don’t adjust your monitor. My sink is green. It’s kitschy in a cool way, but I really wish it were a double sink.
In this new pot, turn the heat back up to high. Now mix some cornstarch and water. I don’t know how to explain to mix the cornstarch in mathmatical terms, and for this, I am very sorry. I put a little more than two tablespoons in a cup, and a little bit of water, and stir until it’s a thin paste consistency.. then I add that to my stock to thicken.
At this time, also add in your milk. Add as little or as much milk as you want. I added about a cup. We’re all about cooking with love instead of math ’round these parts.
When the stock is thickened to a consistency you like, you can add it back to your potato-onion mixture. Make sure you don’t scald the stock. Now that it has milk in it, that can happen.
Also, chop up your green onions. Add both them and the bacon to your soup.
I’d let it simmer on low for another 5 to 10 minutes, but you can actually let it simmer for as long as you’d like, so long as the temperature is low enough to not scald the soup.
Mmmmm. Yummy stuff, man. Yummy stuff.
Variations of this soup can include swapping the bacon for ham, adding in chopped spinach, or using vegetable stock instead of chicken.
I topped mine with sharp cheddar cheese and saltines, James had his straight up. This soup freezes beautifully, and keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy!
Nanny’s Favorite Potato Soup
1 Potato for each adult you’re feeding, chopped
1 Yellow or White Onion, chopped
2 stalks of Celery, chopped
1 strip of bacon for each adult you’re feeding, chopped
1 green onion for every adult you’re feeding, chopped
Cornstarch to thicken
Water, Milk, and Chicken stock for broth
Black Pepper, White Pepper, and Nature’s Seasoning or Garlic Salt and Celery Salt to flavor